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All things hang gliding. This is the main forum. New users, introduce yourself.

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By TomGalvin
#393903
From: https://www.gofundme.com/joe-stearns-recovery-fund

"Joe Stearn is a young man from western MA that learned to hang glide a few years ago. His love of flying and his good and positive nature made him a great addition to the New England flying community.

On Sunday, November 13th, after a long day of volunteering to make a flying site safer to fly , Joe enjoyed a 1.5 hour flight off the mountain. Unfortunately, Joe crashed on landing and broke a few vertebrae in his back and received a few cuts and bruises. After a med flight and a few days in hospital, Joe was released sporting a new back brace. Now he needs time to heal before he returns to his work as a roaster at the Barrington Coffee Roasting Company.

Please join me with a contribution to Joe's recovery fund that will help him with lost wages, medical expenses and repair of his glider. This week is a time that we gather with friends and family to give thanks for all that is good in our lives. Please give a little something to this great guy and help him through a difficult and painful period in his life."
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By NMERider
#393904
Joseph is also an active Org contributor along with being one heckofagood guy. Please help a brutha out!

The happy portion of his fateful flight went like this....
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The unhappy portion went almost identically to the accident when I fractured a couple of vertebrae in my neck nearly 3 years ago. Hint: Don't do base leg to final low to the ground unless you are in 100% Top Gun condition to be doing something like that. If you know you are fatigued then give yourself lots of room for error when landing. There have been plenty of similar accidents in HG as well as GA flying.
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By Dave Gills
#393905
TomGalvin wrote:Please join me with a contribution to Joe's recovery fund
Done!
Good luck Joe & thanks for helping with site maintenance / flying community.
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By Lucky_Chevy
#393906
So, what's the best way to send a couple of bucks? Do you have an email That I can send PayPal to?
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By TomGalvin
#393908
Lucky_Chevy wrote:So, what's the best way to send a couple of bucks?
Use the gofundme link in my first post. They take credit cards.
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By dbotos
#393994
NMERider wrote:The unhappy portion went almost identically to the accident when I fractured a couple of vertebrae in my neck nearly 3 years ago. Hint: Don't do base leg to final low to the ground unless you are in 100% Top Gun condition to be doing something like that.
Sorry to hear about Joe's accident.

Jonathan - have you seen the unhappy portion? Can you elaborate a little more on what exactly happened? Sideslip in the turn? Catch a wing tip? Partial spiral into ground?
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By NMERider
#393996
dbotos wrote:
NMERider wrote:The unhappy portion went almost identically to the accident when I fractured a couple of vertebrae in my neck nearly 3 years ago. Hint: Don't do base leg to final low to the ground unless you are in 100% Top Gun condition to be doing something like that.
Sorry to hear about Joe's accident.

Jonathan - have you seen the unhappy portion? Can you elaborate a little more on what exactly happened? Sideslip in the turn? Catch a wing tip? Partial spiral into ground?
Base leg executed about 20-30' too low. Didn't quite level out into final leg before striking the ground with body. It's a common accident in many forms of aviation. Too low on the downwind leg then waiting too long to turn base to final and running out of room. Cut the damn base leg turn early if you're too low on the downwind.
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By dbotos
#394006
NMERider wrote:
dbotos wrote:
NMERider wrote:Base leg executed about 20-30' too low. Didn't quite level out into final leg before striking the ground with body. It's a common accident in many forms of aviation. Too low on the downwind leg then waiting too long to turn base to final and running out of room. Cut the damn base leg turn early if you're too low on the downwind.
So it happened while still in the turn from base to final? When you say "striking ground with body", was he upright already and caught a leg on the ground? If not that or catching a wingtip, I would think the bottom corner of the control bar toward the inside of the turn would hit first (which tends to cause sudden yawing and downward pitch, pilot getting swung forward through the control bar, and subsequent injury/damage).
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By NMERider
#394009
dbotos wrote:.....So it happened while still in the turn from base to final? When you say "striking ground with body", was he upright already and caught a leg on the ground? If not that or catching a wingtip, I would think the bottom corner of the control bar toward the inside of the turn would hit first (which tends to cause sudden yawing and downward pitch, pilot getting swung forward through the control bar, and subsequent injury/damage).
His base bar hit evenly and he went back to prone in order to push out but it was too late and he swung through, striking the ground pretty hard. It's difficult to watch. Not to sound like your Jewish mother but I hope you've contributed. Anyhow, this discussion put the fear of G-d back in me and I gave myself a nice long downwind leg and nice wide base leg and nailed my landing today on my ancient t2C 144. :goodidea:
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By dbotos
#394011
NMERider wrote:His base bar hit evenly and he went back to prone in order to push out but it was too late and he swung through, striking the ground pretty hard. It's difficult to watch. Not to sound like your Jewish mother but I hope you've contributed. Anyhow, this discussion put the fear of G-d back in me and I gave myself a nice long downwind leg and nice wide base leg and nailed my landing today on my ancient t2C 144.
My Mom is Catholic, but they‘re pretty good a guilt trips too. :lol: I did make a contribution to the fund. Your Jewish mother comment made me think of this bit by comedian David Cross (warning - some language):

https://youtu.be/cZOlW3WX0lI

Thanks for the details. We can't change the past but we can certainly learn from it. Not to suggest using equipment as a crutch for mistakes, but do you think the outcome would have been a lot different if the glider had wheels on it?
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By NMERider
#394036
dbotos wrote:....Thanks for the details. We can't change the past but we can certainly learn from it. Not to suggest using equipment as a crutch for mistakes, but do you think the outcome would have been a lot different if the glider had wheels on it?
8" pneumatic wheels probably would have helped but the ground looked soft and the grass somewhat tall. The glider may still have pitched over but probably not as violently since the control bar would have been free to move rather than digging in. Joseph's best bet may have been to abort the base leg turn and land crosswind assuming there was room to fly straight and complete the landing.

I will comment that it is extremely dangerous to try to tighten up a base leg turn near the ground. If a turn is initiated with excess air speed going in then tightening that turn can be used to bleed off the excess airspeed. However, if we are already in a coordinated turn and we try to tighten it and stay coordinated, we will lose more altitude faster to gain the extra speed needed than if we gain that extra speed while flying with wings level. In other words, if you need to make a tight base leg turn then you need extra airspeed BEFORE you initiate the turn. Trying to gain the extra airspeed while already in the turn near the ground can be disastrous.

This is a set of maneuvers that can easily be practiced at a safe altitude in order to appreciate the difference between a tight turn that began with the necessary airspeed and a coordinated turn that gets tightened up during the turn.

Another thing to bear in mind is that when we are physically and mentally fatigued, we will revert to muscle memory and perform on automatic without realizing what we are doing. The way to overcome this is with training and lots of it so that our muscles are programed to do the right thing. Alternately, we can train our judgement to recognize when we are fatigued and likely to revert to muscle memory and to give ourselves more room for error.
By blindrodie
#394052
However, if we are already in a coordinated turn and we try to tighten it and stay coordinated, we will lose more altitude faster to gain the extra speed needed
Yepper, been there and done that early on in my Falcon 1 195. Took out my first DT doing just that. Plus I was in the "get closer to the launch site so I would not have to walk so far" mode. A relatively expensive mode one might think! Thanks to the farmer that had just plowed the field my lesson was an easy one...

8)
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By dbotos
#395250
Any word on how Joe's recovery is going?
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By Bouyo
#395256
Thanks NME for the heads-up ...

I'm doing much better: my strength is returning and my mouth lacerations are almost imperceptible now. I'm going in for an X-ray next week (the last one was six weeks ago) to find out how my vertebrae are knitting together after this time. The fractures were full-on bursts of T5 and T6 but were deemed stable, so I'm still wearing my full-length back brace with neck restrain until I hear more from the Orthopedic surgeon.

All of the support from the community has been amazing and I'm so grateful to people for helping - I simply couldn't heal-up as well (or even afford to) if it wasn't for all that help in the form of donations, phone calls, well wishes and car rides! I tell people who aren't pilots about this community and its spirit and they're all so amazed and impressed by it - who wouldn't be?

I'll update this thread when I have some more news. In terms of the particulars of the accident, I don't think there's a profound lesson to be learned that hasn't already been taught. Basically I picked a spot near the edge of a large field (rather than using the extent of the field), misjudged the start of my downwind for the spot I was aiming at (I was too low) but didn't accept that fact and make necessary corrections (i.e. land ahead of my chosen spot). Consequently I found myself making a near 180 degree turn low to the ground and didn't have enough height to complete it. That's what happened.

Why it happened was a combination of my slipping standards for well executed landing patterns and general fatigue from too much physical work before a long, cold November flight. I really believe that if either of those two things weren't present in combination I wouldn't have crashed. Of course, when you see it like that then it shows you (and me) that standards for landing approaches have to be perfect, because sometimes you're going to be fatigued when you make them. I had let the basic approach skills slide.
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